The Humility of Christmas

In Mathew 11:29, Jesus gives us a surprising description of himself. He says, “. . . I am gentle and humble of heart.” The God of the universe restrained His power to become one us and he entered the world as a child.

Jesus’s entire life was marked by humility. He grew up with no credentials. He had no formal education, no social status, no wealth. He spent his first thirty years in the little Podunk village of Nazareth, far from the center of power.

In John 1:43-46, Philip approaches his friend Nathaniel and tells him that the long-awaited Messiah had come. He then identifies him as “Jesus of Nazareth.” Nathaniel, who eventually becomes one of the twelve disciples responds, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The Jews looked down on people from Nazareth, yet this is where God chose for Jesus to grow up.

Then in Luke 4:16-22, Jesus is just beginning his ministry. He goes back to Nazareth where he has spent the last thirty years of his life. He goes into the synagogue on the Sabbath and he stands up to read. He reads from the book of Isaiah, several passages regarding the coming of the Messiah. He finishes the reading, sits down and announces, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Those present were not really sure what he meant, but they spoke well of him. But they then said, “Isn’t that Joseph’s son?” They were not sure who he was, even though he had grown up in the village. He clearly had lived a very inconspicuous life in the background. Jesus was kind of a nobody in this community, as he lived in the shadows.

Even as his public ministry flourished, Jesus continued to live a life of humility. When he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, just before being crucified, he did not ride in on a chariot or a big, beautiful stallion, but a lowly donkey.

I think the Apostle Paul imparts to us the appropriate attitude we should take into this Christmas season. In II Corinthians 9:15 Paul says, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” The gift of Christ is truly indescribable. To think that the God of the universe would enter our world as a baby. And then the King of all Kings would allow himself to die an excruciating death on the cross.

Paul says, “And being found in appearance as a man. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8). And then as hard to believe, He asked God the Father to forgive those who executed Him. He was then unceremoniously buried in a borrowed tomb. Yet somehow Jesus and His small following have produced the dominant faith in Western civilization.

This is the power of humility.

And as we approach Christmas, we should all remember that on that first Christmas morning, God gave the world the greatest gift it could ever receive. Words cannot describe it. Thanks be to God!

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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